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By John Ward
For all the remarkable advancements and achievements in medicine and healthcare, there’s one distinct and critical area that lags in comparison: customer experience (CX). More commonly referred to as patient care, healthcare delivery organizations’ (HDOs) spend only 0.9% of their revenue on CX compared to the average across all industries of 1.7%. While this discrepancy might seem insignificant, it’s still surprising from the perspective that patients everywhere rely on communication channels to get in touch with the right people to address their often pressing medical concerns.
A Harris Poll found that the majority of U.S. healthcare consumers have had a poor communications experience with their providers. Add to this the fact that younger generations with higher expectations for convenience and instant communication will soon take on the responsibility of their own healthcare and insurance needs. One Qualtrics survey found, compared to baby boomers, Gen Xers are 3.3 times more likely to abandon a particular healthcare provider as a result of poor communication. Another Qualtrics survey found that 42% of healthcare consumers would change providers if they don’t offer a good digital experience, while 28% said they have already changed providers from 2019 due to a poor digital experience. Moreover, patients aged 16-24 years were 4 times more likely to change healthcare providers due to poor digital experience than those aged 55 years and above.
It’s clear from these statistics that patient care or customer experience in the healthcare industry is a major pain point for consumers and a crucial business differentiator for HDOs looking to maintain and secure new customers. To bridge this divide between patient preferences and business efficiencies, many HDOs are turning to Communications Platforms as a Service (CPaaS). A technology leveraging artificial intelligence (AI), automation, machine learning and cloud technologies, comprehensive CPaaS platforms offer a centralized communications management service encompassing voice, SMS, video and multiple embedded APIs that can be laid over current communication technology stacks to offer patients a more streamlined, accurate and efficient experience.
Most insured patients have likely had to file their own claims for a variety of reasons, such as requesting partial or full refunds for out-of-network appointments or services. Filing these claims can be archaic depending on providers, as many still require a patient to print and fill out a paper form to fax or mail back to the third-party processor.
Some CPaaS solutions allow patients to receive real-time updates on the status of their claims in the channels they use every day, such as via automated texts, messages, or emails. While CPaaS cannot control the speed at which approvals are granted, customers can at least be informed of when the claim is received and when they can expect their refunds. CPaaS platforms equally benefit the organizations processing claims or managing employee benefits plans. For example, HealthEZ, a benefits administrator in health plan analytics and consumer engagement, recently installed IntelePeer’s CPaaS technology into their stack to bring convenient, self-service automation capabilities to its high-touch support services. HealthEZ found that 75 percent of incoming calls were transactional in nature, with only 25 percent from consumers. By implementing voice-enabled call flows for inbound and outbound interaction, as well as virtual dashboards for actionable on-demand visibility into all customer interactions across channels, support teams were able to continue providing a high level of engagement while callers had the ability to opt into an automated experience to simplify common tasks such as verifying plan eligibility and benefits, as well as insurance claims and billing among other things.
As these communications technologies continue to develop with advanced machine-learning capabilities such as natural language processing and emotional AI, CPaaS platforms are becoming invaluable to enterprises in a wide range of industries. For HDOs, which often require patient care in multiple languages, these tools can facilitate improved connections given that advanced AI is capable picking up on nuances such as language/dialect identification and emotions all via voice. Through automation, patients can be directed to an agent who is fluent in a specific language, and as a result help with issues that may otherwise go unresolved, while offering a higher level of comfort. AI can also gather patient data quickly so that when patients are connected to a live agent, their information will not have to be repeated. With increases in first-call resolution rates, patient satisfaction is bound to rise.
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly placed a spotlight on patient care and the need for improved efficiency, whether to automate testing and vaccine appointment scheduling or claims, billing and other finance-related healthcare processes. With a modern CPaaS approach, HDOs can focus employee time and resources where they are needed most, while patients receive more personalized, productive interactions.
About John Ward: John serves as Chief Technology Officer and leads his team in delivering advanced and innovative solutions for IntelePeer’s infrastructure and its partners and customers. He has authored many of IntelePeer’s patents. John brings 25 years of telecommunications and systems experience holding architecture and engineering positions at Level 3, Hewlett Packard, and MCI. John holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Colorado State University.
About IntelePeer: IntelePeer powers the new customer experience. Our Atmosphere® CPaaS enables companies to communicate better – driving more revenue, improving their customer experience, and making better business decisions – leveraging omni-channel Automation & Self-Service, AI, and Analytics, all delivered through a single easy-to-use cloud platform that works seamlessly with your existing business solutions. For more information visit: www.intelepeer.com